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Today’s emotions are tomorrow’s performance

Clive Hyland | 25th June 2020

The Road to Resilience – Building Mental Resilience Despite Uncertainty

As we move into the 4th month of lockdown, all HR leaders and CEOs are trying to juggle high levels of uncertainty in their business, both for individual employees and their organisation’s as a whole. They’re worried about how long lockdown will last. How it will impact the economy and the ongoing viability of their business. How they can create a safe workplace with the level of flexibility over where, when and how people work?

These huge challenges and societal changes are creating an unprecedented level of uncertainty, that’s testing the mental resilience of us all.

Why do emotions belong in the workplace?

Emotions are the sensations and chemistry that mobilise us. They’re the essential fuel of human behaviour, and any attempt to deny our emotions, not only misses a huge opportunity but causes problems. Our emotions exist, we don’t choose them. The only question is, what do we do with them?

What is mental resilience?
Can it be learnt, or is it inherent?

We’re all born with a predisposition towards being more or less resilient in certain circumstances, but our genetics are only a starting template for the way that we are. Our genes are turned on and off throughout our life, so we don’t have a pre-defined genetic template that we can’t change.

What’s absolutely key in terms of resilience is the things that we learn, especially as a young child. In particular, in the first three years of our lives, the emotional template of our brain is created. If we’re encouraged, feel safe, and are nurtured, we feel that the world can be trusted. This creates a level of resilience for us.

Alternatively, as a young child, if we’re brought up in a situation where the world is a scary place, we’re going to become very threat orientated and it’s difficult to establish a level of resilience for the experiences we face later in life.

How can resilience and wellbeing be built
into a thriving culture?

Organisations need to establish a culture that balances performance with the well-being of the individual. Many organisations focus too much, or solely on performance. When a huge enforced change comes along, like with the Covid-19 crisis, it means that any flaws in the culture of an organisation become accentuated and the cracks appear. 

Organisations that focus purely on performance will have to radically rethink their cultures. Organisations can no longer operate in a paradigm of believing that the people at the top maintain control and have all the answers. The pace of change today and the availability of information and technology mean it’s a broken model. Today’s leaders must embrace the speed of change and collaborate with their people to find solutions to make their organisations sustainable over the long-term.

Creating a culture with open listening and communication requires a huge amount of education, and can’t be constructed in just one conversation. A good leader knows that their platform is built upon the people around them. Everyone will change as a result of the Covid-19 experience, and resilience is a challenge we all face. We see through our data at The Happiness Index that the organisations who continually listen and communicate back have happier, more productive people. People love being part of a team or organisation that is thriving and successful.

There are 3 steps to making listening and communicating an instinctive habit.

  1. Provide meaning – give your people something to believe it and a clear sense of direction 
  2. Establish trust – once you have trust you’ll find that your people will want to engage
  3. Build new habits and behaviours– by creating daily routines

The opportunity cost of doing things wrong is huge. All business leaders must think about the long-term sustainability of their business and the resilience of their people is a key component of this. 

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